Unless you want your wine bar to look like a brothel, purple curtains are a no-no apparently

Owner finds out the hard way after group of townsfolk decide venue is a 'house of ill repute'

To the whimsically Arthurian-named town of Lostwithiel in Cornwall, England, where the owner of a wine bar has found himself defending his biz in the local media against claims that it looks more like a bordello.

And what, pray, is the offending characteristic attracting these claims?

Streams of shifty, shame-drenched men entering and exiting at all hours of the night? No!

Purple curtains. Sumptuous, velvety purple curtains.

Alan Gilbert, owner of Trewithen Bistro and Wine Bar, told news site Cornwall Live that someone was even bothered enough by the decor to write an anonymous letter suggesting the venue "looks like a house of ill repute".

And since the bar's opening on 5 February, whispers have spread across the parish about how the "dingy" interior "suggested illegitimate goings-on, looking like a brothel or a funeral parlour", Gilbert said.

He added that the scheme was inspired by the building, which is "orange and purple coloured" itself. "We decided to have curtains in the window so put them in and opened."

Soon the businessman received a text from a woman claiming to represent the interests of residents who said the place was "bringing the town down and making it look cheap".

Gilbert invited her to take a look and said he would try to work with her concerns.

"We asked the customers coming in what they thought and some said they liked them, others said it wasn't to their taste but everyone seemed happy with the general ambiance here."

It wasn't clear – to some – whether that "ambiance" included mustachioed men in wide-brimmed hats smoking and drinking neat whiskey playing poker while women in corsets and puffy skirts asked them if they like "a good time" over the din of a pianola.

"We made the decision not to alter the curtains to go with the opinion of the majority," Gilbert continued, "but then at the weekend a letter came through the door signed from 'me' that said the curtains gave the image of a house of ill-repute."

Gilbert has had enough of the town's Innsmouth-like conspiracies.

"We take on board other people's opinions but this has gone past a joke," he sighed. "We're here creating jobs for local people and trying to improve the town."

Despite everything, the business is doing fine. "Everyone is on board and the new premises is doing great. We open for breakfast in the morning, then serve lunches before moving to afternoon tea and then the wine bar in the evening.

"Who'd have thought some purple curtains could cause so much of a stir?"

We're sure Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would approve, Alan. ®

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